When we join the League, we become members of the national, state, and local Leagues. So--
LWVUS--is the League of Women Voters of the U.S.--the national level.
LWVOR--is the League of Women Voters of Oregon--our state LWV.
LWVMPC--is the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties.
All-member meetings--Although all League meetings are open to the public, All-member meetings are advertised to the public. A few All-member meetings are held each year, and all members are encouraged to attend. There will be a speaker (as at the Constitution Day Celebration) or a panel presenting various points of view on an issue.
Unit meetings are monthly small-group meetings. LWVMPC has two Units--Evening and Morning. Sometime we have an outside speaker at a Unit meeting, but usually one or more League members present information about a current League study. Both Units will discuss the same topic, and time for discussion is the main purpose of Units; we learn from each other's experiences as well as from the League-prepared background material. Unit meetings are a good way to get acquainted with a small group of Leaguers who usually attend the same Unit month after month (although it is not required to do so).
Interest Groups are small groups of League members interested in a topic that the League is not currently studying. The idea behind Interest Groups is that League members are well informed and would enjoy talking informally with each other about a topic or issue. Casual discussion might lead to a proposal for a formal League study or advocacy, but usually it won't. Interest Groups are also a good way to get acquainted with a small group of Leaguers.
We encourage you to attend a Unit meeting, an Interest Group, and the periodic All-Member meetings. As OPB says: Learning is entertainment. And sharing ideas in discussion is fun!
Consensus questions are prepared by the League research committee. For example, Water Resources in Oregon was a state League study, so the research committee members came from Leagues in various parts of Oregon. After researching the topic, writing the report, and having the report reviewed by various people who are knowledgeable about water issues in the state, the final report was approved by the state League board before being printed and sent to all League members and posted on the LWVOR website at http://www.lwvor.org/recentstudies.htm. The research committee also wrote the discussion and consensus questions, which were also approved by the state League board. (A local League study would be conducted the same way with approval of the report and consensus questions coming from the local League board.)
Since Water Resources in Oregon was a statewide study, the consensus from each of our two local League Units were combined and sent to LWVOR. Each local League in Oregon did the same. Then the LWVOR Water Resources Committee put all that information together to formulate a statement of position. The statement of position was composed of general principles that will remain applicable over many years.
After the LWVOR Board approved the position, all the state's local Leagues could use that new position to take action. The League can take action only after study and consensus by members and only on the principles included in that position.
League's program is the list of that year's studies and updates (local, state, national) chosen by League members. At the local level members choose the next year's program at Annual Meeting in May. Delegates at state and national conventions, which are held in alternate years, choose state and national program for the next biennium.
Program Planning--Although our local League's program is chosen by the members at our all-member Annual Meeting, the process begins in January with an all-member Program Planning meeting. Attendees at that meeting bring their suggestions for
A New Study--This can be
● An issue on which we have no pertinent position so cannot take action.
● An issue on which we have a position but which is out of date or incomplete due to changes in the law, technology, etc.
A study is done by a local League committee to produce information for local League members to use to arrive at a consensus position. See explanation of consensus. (The League has information available on how to do a study.)
An Update--This can be on an issue on which we have a position that appears to still be useful, but it's been so long since the position was adopted that League members need a refresher on the information and possibly a look at whether the position is still adequate.
An update requires a small committee to gather the new information or to find an outside expert willing to speak at a League Unit or other meeting.
Positions: Synopses of current local, state, and national positions are on the website of each level of the League. See local positions
When suggesting a new study or update, a person should include
● The title (topic) of the proposed study
● The scope of the proposed study: Which aspects of the topic do you want to study?
● The focus of the study (if possible): How do you see the study unfolding, including the length of the study (one or two years)?
For an example of title, scope, and focus see the LWVUS Update on the Education Study at the end of this article.
Recommended Program--Based on the amount of interest shown for each topic at the Program Planning meeting, the local Program Co-VPs will suggest a Recommended Program for the LWVMPC Board to consider and approve. The Recommended Program will be listed in the Annual Meeting Workbook. Non-recommended Topics will also be listed in the workbook. The workbook will be sent to local League members two weeks before Annual Meeting.
At Annual Meeting the Recommended Program topics will be discussed and voted on. Non-recommended topics may be brought up for consideration, too. However, only topics suggested at Program Planning (listed in the Annual Meeting Workbook) may be considered at Annual Meeting.
So it's important that all League members who care what next year's local program will be plan to attend the Program Planning meeting in January. Even if you don't have a suggestion for a study or update, your input regarding the topics other members suggest is important.
What makes a good local study or update?
■ Studies and updates should have broad interest.
■ The people who suggest and support each study or update should volunteer to work on it.
So during the year make an effort to notice issues on which you would like the League to advocate in Marion and Polk Counties.
Check your membership directory to see if there is a pertinent position at one of the three levels of the League. (We can use state and national positions at the local level.) If it appears that we don't already have a pertinent position, check the full statement of position on the appropriate LWV website to be sure.
If a study or update is needed, write a title, scope, and (if possible) focus of the study and bring your proposal to Program Planning ready to advocate for it at that meeting.
Interest groups are especially encouraged to suggest topics for study or update.
The following is a national League study and an example of Title, Scope and Focus:
LWVUS Update on the Education Study: The Role of the Federal Government in Public Education
Scope of the study: The study on the federal role in pre-K through grade 12 public education is to be limited to issues of equity, funding and standards/assessment.
Focus of the study: The national study committee will begin with an overview of the history of the federal role and where it is today. They will then focus on the components of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which speak to the equity issues. Finally, the committee will address the Common Core Standards and the subsequent assessment issues.